Test Drive A Volunteer Opportunity

Wow! I love this idea. I need to clarify I had nothing to do with it and didn’t know about it until I read it on one of our staff member’s blog, but I’m so proud of our team! As you know, our church is growing rapidly. We are averaging over a 30% increase every week over this same time last year. With more new people comes more needs for volunteers.

Have you ever wanted to test out a volunteer position? Well this is your week at Grace Community Church. Join the fantastic people in Grace Acres or Cross Street this Sunday for a free “test drive” to see if you like it. Here’s the cool part…you will.

Benefits:
1. Lots of love
2. Meet new people
3. Feel appreciated
4. Serve God

You can’t beat that deal. See Katrina or Adam this Sunday and take a test drive.

Now we need to get the other ministry areas to play copycat!

What creative ways has your church recruited volunteers?

A Day In The Life Of A Pastor

Today was one of the hardest days in ministry that I’ve had in many months, yet it was a confirming day at the same time. Let me explain.

I emailed our staff Sunday night that this was an impossible week for me schedule wise. It is my last week of classes for my second master’s degree (YEA!), I am speaking at a conference this weekend, and I’m preaching Sunday, in addition to a full schedule of meetings. I was feeling overwhelmed before I started and wanted them to have advance warning that I would be stretched. (I’m not that much fun to be around during those times…some days.) This morning, after learning of my fifth crisis of the week and it being only Tuesday morning, I sent the staff another email. I had tried too hard to plan my schedule for the week and God had other plans. I needed their prayers.

That’s also when the confirmation occurred to me. This is what I’ve been called to do. I spent 20 plus years in business running from a call to vocational ministry, but today is an example of why I believe God placed a call on my life. I have, for whatever reason, the ability to help people wade through the crisis times of life. I have an ability to bring calm to some storms. As hard as those times are…as much as I’d love to run from them some days, this is what and who God called me to be.

This week is not over yet, and I’m hoping for some rest from the storms to prepare my heart for the next wave of trauma, but I’m also confident I’m doing what God has called me to do.

Here’s an important question I think God would have me ask at this point:

Are you doing what God has called you to do?

(I obviously can’t and wouldn’t share any specifics, but would you be willing to pray for some very hard situations right now?)

10 Questions With Leader Cheryl Smith


Cheryl Smith is an author, speaker and consultant who understands the power of social media.  As an online friend, Cheryl has inspired me with her leadership and networking skills.  Cheryl is consistently connecting me with other pastors she feels would mesh well with me. To this point, she’s been right every time.  I suspect she does this for others also.

You can read more of Cheryl’s bio HERE and follow her on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with Cheryl Smith:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally?  If not, what did you want to do?

Not at all! When I was younger, I had a fairly limited view on vocational opportunities. Some of my most fun childhood memories are of me pretending to be a garbage collector. My dad had an old 1952 Ford pickup truck and I always thought it was cool that garbage men could ride around on the outside of the truck. To this day, I still can’t keep my eyes off the garbage truck when it comes down our street on Fridays.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

For about a year when I was in my early twenties, I had a job as an orthodontic assistant in a small practice. I learned about business processes including scheduling appointments, printing off contracts, charting and patient care. Though I’m no longer working orthodontic patients, all of those processes have come into play in my own consulting business.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

Dr. Holly Latty-Mann is the President and Co-founder (with the late Dr. Jim Farr) of The Leadership Trust®. In 2002 I attended the week-long Personalized Leadership Development Program (PLDP) that focused on self awareness and leadership development. God used Holly in a huge way to help me understand my strengths and how to effectively deal with my challenges. She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met! I can’t say enough good things about my PLDP experience. Holly was one of my biggest encourages when I started my own business in 2007.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

The Strengths Finders books (Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath), along with Vital Friends by Tom Rath. That’s three, but who’s counting?

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

I had to ask a few folks. Here is what I heard: Resourceful, Honest, Reliable/Dedicated

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Communication and Connectedness.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Attention to detail/follow through. I’m definitely more a big picture person!

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Say no to people I really want to say yes to.

What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?

That I’ve got it all figured out, or I’m smarter than I really am.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Learn your strengths early in life, so that you can spend your career doing what you’re intrinsically gifted to do. It’s satisfying and energizing to get paid to do what you love!

Who else should I interview?

Read the other interviews I’ve done HERE.

Guest Post: Nate Edmondson on Entertaining Vs. Engaging

My son Nate is opinionated. I suppose he gets that honestly. I’ve said before, however, that he’s one 18 year old freshman in college that you need to keep your eye on for the future. He’s going places. (I’m biased, but I’m also a realist.) As a student at Moody Bible College, Nate has been processing the way we do church even more these days. Today he shared a new post. (I wish he would post more often.)

Read his thoughts on entertaining versus engaging in worship services:

All my life I’ve heard Bible-believing, well-meaning Christians criticize modern ministry methods because they were more “entertaining” than “Biblical”. Before I could go to “big church” the argument was over hymnals vs. projector screens. When I was 8, everyone was all bent out of shape over “dressing up for church”. People had begun wearing collared shirts and khakis instead of shirts and ties. When I was 10 it was over “contemporary music”. When I was 12 it was over small groups vs. Sunday School.

To read the rest of his post, click HERE.

God Gets Glory, Because He Knows More Than You Do

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. Proverbs 25:2 NIV

I wonder about the Queen of Sheba who went to visit King Solomon. She had heard of his great wisdom and when she arrived, she realized that Solomon was far wiser than she had even imagined. I wonder if she was more popular when she went home, because she had been to see the “wise one”. That’s what leaders do, isn’t it? They search out wisdom. They try to find answers. They seek knowledge.

When I served in an elected government position, the old saying was that “knowledge is power”, and it’s true. The fact that I knew something sometimes made others want me around. (Too bad that doesn’t happen anymore.) Kings search out information because it builds them up and gives them more fame.

God knows everything. Nothing can escape God’s ability to understand. Do you have a problem? He has the answer. Do you need a solution? He has it. Is there a trial to deep for you to comprehend? He’s already got the remedy mapped out for you. Is there something you don’t understand? He does!

Doesn’t it make God special that we don’t understand all things? God gets glory because He is God. I know that sounds simple, but it’s so true. God is bigger, better, and wiser than anyone or anything you can imagine. That makes Him special. It gives Him glory. All the glory He receives is all because He is God!

Can you trust a God like that today? Could the solution to your problems today be more of trusting in His abilities than in trying to find all the answers?

I’m Getting a Daughter: Welcome to the Family, Mary


Have you heard the news? Cheryl and I are gaining a daughter! Our oldest son Jeremy asked Mary to be his wife last week. (In a very romantic way that would make most of us men hate him. He set the standard high.) They will marry sometime next year and we couldn’t be more excited.

If we were selecting a daughter or a daughter-in-law, we would have chosen someone just like Mary. She has a natural mothering heart wired to care for others. Mary is beautiful, smart, kind, and compassionate. She loves children, puppies, and people. Mary is patient with others, including Jeremy, Nate and me when we tease her. (Which is one reason I always wanted a daughter!) Mary is respectful to Cheryl and me, and has become a great friend to Cheryl. Best of all, Mary loves Jesus with all her heart. She truly is a remarkable young woman.

Jeremy and Mary have dated six years, and we have known her family for many years, so we’ve watched her grow into the fine young lady she is today. Mary completes Jeremy perfectly. We often comment that Jeremy is a better person when Mary is around; and he seems to enjoy life better. Their equal heart for missions and ministry welcomes God to use them throughout their marriage.

Mary, you should know that Cheryl and I are going to compete for the in-laws of the year award…every year! We enjoy our time with our children, but we want to encourage you two as you plan your life together, without getting in your way. We are always here if you need us, and just as we’ve told our boys (and you), you are never an interruption to our days. We are always here for you!

Welcome to the family Mary! You are dearly and completely loved!

Good choice Jeremy! You make us proud!

NO Minor Roles in Ministry: The Encouragement of a Little Boy


I was encouraged recently reading a passage in 1 Samuel 20:18-23, 35-42. If you know the story, it’s about David’s relationship with King Saul and about his friendship with Jonathan.

These specific verses deal with the question of whether the king wanted to kill David. Jonathan, the king’s son and David’s best friend, agreed to a test to discern the king’s heart. As a sign to David, Jonathan would shoot arrows into the field where David was hiding and a little boy would retrieve them. If he shot the arrows close to the boy, David was safe. If he shot the arrows far beyond the boy, David was in danger.

It’s a great story and I hope you will read it again. My purpose of this post is not the main theme of the story; my focus is the little boy. We tend to read this story for the purposes of David and Jonathan, and while they are certainly central characters in God’s story, so was the little boy.

This little boy was innocent in the matter…he was just doing what he was asked to do. The boy apparently had no idea the importance of the role he was playing at the time in protecting the future king of the Israelites. The little boy, however, was a kingdom builder without knowing it. God used Him in a mighty way, just for being willing to follow through on an assignment.

Have you stopped lately to consider the importance you play in God’s story? You may see your role as minor…perhaps you work in the parking lot ministry…you help with set up or tear down each week…you shake hands…you sweep the floor…you push buttons so another person can talk…you invite your friends to attend church with you…you offer to, and really do, pray for people. It may seem “unimportant” to you, but in God’s eyes, you are playing a vital role in His Kingdom.

Regardless of what you think of your abilities or position, you have the potential to be an important part of carrying out God’s plan through your local church. Most churches couldn’t do what they do without the sacrifices of people like you. You have opportunities the pastors never have. You have value. You have impact. You can advance the cause of Christ, just through your obedience.

Be encouraged with your service!

Free Fridays: Mustard Seed Thoughts (My Devotional)

Winners of today’s books:

Crystal @soulmunchies

Steve Hinkle @istoriarev

Ron Lane @Ron_Lane

Bridget Dill

Laurie @Laurieskillern

If this is you, I’m trying to contact you.  Email me if I don’t reach you.  (Ron.Edmondson@gmail.com)

Thanks for entering…Try again next week for more Free Friday.

Almost 15 years ago, soon after I got my first home computer, I started my first online ministry, called Mustard Seed Thoughts. It was a daily, emailed devotional. Shortly after I started, a man contacted me to see if he could host it on his website and Christweb.com has hosted it ever since.

This year, after years of encouragement, I finally published some of those devotionals into a book. Today (again after much encouragement), I decided to give copies away on this week’s Free Fridays. I will give away five (5) copies today.

To enter this contest if you would like to win a copy of Mustard Seed Thoughts daily devotions, simply:

1. Comment on this post with your name.
2. Make sure you register with your correct email address or Twitter name, so I can contact winners.

If you are on Twitter I always appreciate you re-tweeting.

You have until 9 PM CST to comment. I will select five winners using Random.org (I will even sign them…if you want me to.)

Best wishes!

Leadership Development for Dummies


Sorry if the title is crude, but leadership development may not be as difficult as we often make it out to be. One of the number one questions get about leadership is how to develop new leaders within an organization. The task seems overwhelming. Maybe it doesn’t have to be.

Leadership development begins with an understanding that the success of any organization depends greatly on the leader’s willingness to delegate responsibility to others in the organization. The attitude of top leadership is vitally important to developing new leaders.  The more a leader tries to control, the less likely others will be to help him or her accomplish the vision. Without people willing to follow a leader, there is no leadership development. (For you pastors who reject this idea, please read Exodus 18 or Acts 6…or just follow Jesus through the Gospels.)

I believe the best leadership development is accomplished by allowing others to gain experience by doing, therefore we must find ways to allow others to lead. The good news is that delegation can be simplified into two words.

INVEST and RELEASE

Invest in others so they understand the vision of the organization and have the resources, skills and authority to accomplish their assignment.

Release them to add their strengths, creativity and energy to accomplishing the vision.

I realize this is a very simplified answer to a very complicated process, but perhaps simplifying leadership development is needed to ensure we tackle this necessary part of growing a healthy organization.

Have you made leadership development a more complicated process than it needs to be?

Are you holding other potential leaders back because you will not release them to lead?

10 Questions With Leader Kent Shaffer: Church Relevance


Kent Shaffer is an influencer, a creative and innovative genius, and apparently never sleeps. One of the best church leadership blogs I follow is Church Relevance.  It is considered an honor to be considered for one of Kent’s lists of top churches or top Christian blogs.  He is the co-founder of Acre Scout, which helps connect buyers to commercial real estate, including churches.  He is an active part of Lifechurch.tv.   He consults regularly for churches and ministries wanting to become more effective and efficient.  You can follow Kent on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Kent Shaffer:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally?  If not, what did you want to do?

Growing up I had regular intervals where I expected to have a career in ministry when I was older. I also had seasons of expecting to be a fireman, policeman, spy, comedian, mechanical engineer, artist, or marketer. But I never fathomed (even a few years ago) being able to have the career and opportunities that I have today.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

It is hard to label one job as the “most” different. I’ve had a handful of odd jobs that have all taught me something. Working at a movie theater taught me that the quality of the grunt workers in the trenches often makes or breaks an organization. Working as a site coordinator for an intramural sports league taught me that conflict is inevitable and should never be neglected. Working as a local band manager taught me the importance of viewing your organization through the eyes of your audience and not rose-colored glasses. I’ll save some of the other stories for another time.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I had the privilege to work for and be mentored by Jim Wideman who is considered by many to be a pioneer of modern children’s ministry. He taught me how to develop leaders, manage them, and create efficient systems.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

Another mentor of mine, a marketing professor named Dan Fisher, recommended that I read Coercion by Douglas Rushkoff. It is not the most impactful book I’ve read, but it was the catalyst that got me started exploring the importance of behavioral science in ministry. It led me to learning from Malcolm Gladwell, Paco Underhill, Jim Collins, and many others.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Comprehensive, Strategic, & Unconventional

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Holistic Strategy

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Either insensitivity or too high of expectations.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Follow through with necessary confrontation even if it will cause change that I dread.

What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?

I have a bivocational role with the non-profits I help. At my church, LifeChurch.tv, I work primarily with their Digital Mission Initiatives and sometimes assist or talk ideas with the curriculum development, leadership development, or campus teams. The biggest misconception that people have about my role is simply understanding what it is. As a volunteer, I have the opportunity to switch departments and collaborate in whatever department needs me the most. In contrast, staff positions typically have a more rigid department focus.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Put your benchmarks against what God says is possible and not what man has achieved.

Has Kent’s ministry impacted you as much as it has me?